Occasionally a great, critically adored foreign film will come along and impress so many people that the walls of the Best Foreign Language category cannot contain it. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was one such film. Michael Haneke’s “Amour” is only the ninth foreign language film to do it and as such, it’s the biggest favorite to win of all the categories at this year’s Oscars.
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
- “Amour” (Austria)
- “War Witch” (Canada)
- “No” (Chile)
- “A Royal Affair” (Denmark)
- “Kon-Tiki” (Norway)
In critics circles, Michael Haneke is a celebrated filmmaker and it appears Amour is his strongest film yet. He has not won an Oscar and considering the film’s other nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress, there would have to be a conspiracy for it to not walk away with it’s most likely (and possibly only) win.
All that in mind, this category has been notorious for bypassing the popular choice. I mean, France’s biggest movie in ages, “The Intouchables,” didn’t even get nominated and was very popular overseas. So it wouldn’t be completely off base to consider other nominees.
A popular entry in that it got playing time at U.S. theaters quite a bit was Danish period biopic A Royal Affair. Mads Mikkelsen stars with up-and-comer Alicia Vikander in this film that earned lots of awards at Berlin last year. Denmark has done well in this category, but romance and intrigue aren’t usually winning recipes in this category.
I haven’t seen any of these films, but from what I read, if there’s an underdog, it’s War Witch. Canada has been on quite a run with nominees lately but not managed to walk away the victor. This story involves a 14-year-old mixed up in war in the heart of Africa telling her story to her unborn child.
The final leg of a trilogy is Chilean entry No. On its side is star power, with Gael Garcia Bernal in the starring role. It’s full of dark humor and tells a story of a man who launched a campaign to get rid of Chilean dictator Pinochet.
Kon-Tiki has one thing the rest of these nominees don’t, and that’s the help of the Weinstein Co. Many consider this tale of a Norwegian explorer who sailed a raft across the Pacific to prove a point the weakest of the entries, but votes won’t probably look that way when you consider TWC’s reputation for promoting their films to Academy voters.
So there’s cause for concern about a coup, but it’s best to go with the history that says no foreign film nominated for Best Picture and Best Foreign Language film ever lost the latter award.